The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) on Tuesday held a forum on harnessing the potential of trees on farms for meeting national and global biodiversity targets.
The forum which brought together stakeholders, researchers and partners in the biodiversity conservation also saw the launch of the “Trees On Farms for Biodiversity Project” that seeks to increase the knowledge of the links between trees, agriculture and biodiversity.
The 5-year project worth Eur 6 million is implemented in five countries including Rwanda, Uganda, Honuras, Peru and Indonesia. It will be sponsored by the International Climate Initiative (IKI).
Officially opening the forum at Park inn Hotel, Kigali, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Land and Forestry, Jean Claude Musabyimana, said “Rwanda is committed to increase agroforestry as planned in the 2020 Vision and the EDPRS 3.”
Dr Anja Gassner, the Senior Livelihoods Specialist and Head of Research at ICRAF, said that “Rwanda has committed to restore 2.000.000 hectares of land through AFR100 Initiative. 85% of this will be done through agroforestry translating to a potential economic gain of $628 million”.
Rwanda Country Representative of ICRAF, Dr. Athanase Mukuralinda, said that “in the monthly Umuganda activities especially in November, a big number of trees are planted but when you assess the number of trees that grow is very little.”
Dr. Mukuralinda said this is due to inadequate partnership in plans and projects implementation among different NGOs, international institutions and the government actors who work to implement projects that seek to advance the agriculture and biodiversity.
“Trees on farms play a role in the fight against erosion, fertilize soil as their leaves provide organical fertilizers and provide the carbon which is essential for the fight against climate change,” he explained, adding that “when trees are augmented, bees and birds keep playing their pollination role.B
Besides the trees on farm being the source of income for the citizens, there are rich food nutrients found only in fruit trees on farm like avocado, mango, apple and citron trees, important for food security.”
“There is a high need to increase of trees on farms as they increase the fertility of the soil, reducing the use of artificial fertilizers and their side effects and further reducing land degradation,” he noted.
According to Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority, currently the number of agroforestry trees is 20-25 per hectare and target is to increase to 150-200 trees/hectare, by 2024.